Osteology Everywhere: Lithic Edition

It’s been a relaxing few months in Ann Arbor – lots of lounging around, sipping hot beverages around a warm fireplace, and quietly contemplating life.


I’ve been firing on all cylinders recently, dividing my time between applying for jobs and post-docs, working as a Graduate Teaching Consultant for the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, participating in the Ruthven Museum Portal to the Public science communication program, developing presentations for three upcoming conferences, and, of course, working furiously on dissertation chapters.


I am this cat.

This hectic itinerary has kept me away from the blog, because while blog posts can be left on ice for a few months, postdoctoral applications and dissertations wait for no man. However, my busy schedule hasn’t prevented me from seeing osteology everywhere.

My desk space in the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology is in the the Paleolithic Archaeology Range, a space populated almost entirely by people who are super into lithics.

"What's that guys? More debitage? A core of some sort? I know all about this stuff, I swear."

Osteologist in a lithics lab.

While lithic analysis is decidedly not my jam, it’s energizing to work in an environment where people are engaged in active research. Occasionally I’ll wander over to look at the tiny flakes and debitage when I grow frustrated by trying to analyze my recalcitrant dental data-set. On a recent visit to the lithics area, my lab-mate Kyra noted that she’d found a dead ringer for a human carpal – a fragment of chert that looked just like a lunate:

Angled shatter lunate
It’s  about the right size class too, making the parallel even more apt:

This little lithic is actually a fragment of angled shatter from the rock shelter of Melikane in the moutains of Lesotho, a site dated to around 80,000 years before present. The shatter is from an industry called the Howiesons Poort that dates to around 60,000 years before present – you know, only 12 times older than the bones that I’m studying for my dissertation.

One thing that I found particularly endearing about this lithic lunate is that it has a visible “articular facet” of smoother rock, meaning that you can side it!

Articular facet of lithic lunate
So, for all of my osteonerds out there, what side is this from? ABSOLUTELY NO CHEATING (but if you must cheat, here’s an old post on how to side the lunate ).

Acknowledgements: Thanks are due due to Kyra Pazan, for finding the shatter, giving me background info on the site, and tolerating my recurring inane commentary (“I think it’s a rock!”) every time she conducts lithic analyses in the lab. Thanks also to Dr. Brian Stewart, for letting me post about his field material, and graciously allowing a bone person to take up residence in his lab.

Image credits: Cat typing is from giphy.com, here. Cat husky is from imgur, here.

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1 Response to Osteology Everywhere: Lithic Edition

  1. Pingback: Bone Broke Year in Review 2016 | Bone Broke

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